That night before the convocation, I watched the storm brew from the safety of Sister Diane’s window, but I had felt its harsh winds to my core. Like the battered tree branches, I’d been vulnerable to the crippling gusts of grief and change. But the crane had spoken its wisdom to me. Soon, I’d be joined with Ursuline sisters, associates, and friends as we’d journey to our own fertile grounds of kinship, to the place where hope and song is born.
Like the cranes that took refuge at the wildlife preserve, Schneiders believes that despite its smaller numbers, the current population of religious is more secure and “healthier” than it has been at other point in history. In the past, the institutionalization of religious life transformed it into a job placement service. The overall population was larger in size, but the numbers were inflated. Today, however, women who take vows are not seeking job opportunities that are exclusive to religious, nor are they turning to it as a last resort. Rather, women today answer the call to religious life in response to a genuine vocation to serve God’s people. As a result, the population is fewer in number, but it stands in stronger solidarity.
As a Clevelander, this Christian understanding of “weakness” resonates with me after witnessing the Cavaliers’ incredible championship win. Game #7 took place during my internship with the Ursuline Sisters, and I joined Sister Helen on the health care patio to watch history being made. The Cleveland Cavaliers did not earn their title by dominance. They rose to greatness through humility and hardship, and after decades of discouragement, they offered the city a glimpse of hope.
That same hopeful spirit pervaded the atmosphere of the Ursuline Convocation. With the grace of cranes, we gathered in conference rooms named after flowers, our fields of prayer and fellowship. It was a time of joy and sorrow, sunshine and rain. We felt the stormy gusts of violence raging through our nation as we received word about the shooting in Dallas. Yet amidst the physical and spiritual storms, I remembered the prayer of the crane. I could picture it “soar out of a stormy cloud, like some long-forgotten dream.” At the end of the final evening’s liturgy, I joined hands with the Mexican sisters. We formed a lengthening chain that wove around the room to the chorus of one of my favorite songs, “We Are Called.”
In light of an uncertain future, today we dance.